Can my homeowner’s insurer impel me to get rid of my dog?

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Can my homeowner’s insurer impel me to get rid of my dog?

About 3 years ago, my dog bit my neighbor’s dog. The fence separating them was dilapidated and my dog managed to pull one of the pickets off her fence and get to the dog. I paid her for the vet bills and the issue was dropped. I made some repairs to her fence to prevent further problems. More recently, a tree fell on her fence during a wind storm. She decided to take me to small claims. My homeowner’s insurance paid her for the damage, but she complained about my dog again. Now my insurance wants to drop my policy unless I get rid of my dog, despite the fence being fixed. What can I do?

Asked on November 22, 2010 under Insurance Law, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

You probably can't do anything, other than either get rid of the dog or shop around for another insurer that won't put the same criteria on you. There is no obligation for a company to write or provide an insurance policy; they may select their own criteria for who they'll have as a client or insured, and they will do so with an eye towards minimizing their risk. If they feel the dog increases their exposure unacceptably, they can make it a condition of coverage that you get rid of the dog, the same way as they could require that other potentially dangerous conditions be remediated. So as unfair as it seems, this is something that an insurer can require, since they don't have to write a policy for someone they think is too  much of a liability risk.


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